Darley, together with the butty boat Alperton, was owned by Terry and Tina Bellamy when we used it to accommodate extra capacity on a few of our regular runs. 

We took Darley down the Severn and onto the Gloucester & Berkeley Canal with us on one memorable trip. Terry and Tina were accommodated in Darleys’ cabin, and a makeshift tent was squeezed into the fore-end for the cabin boy, Keith Brown, to stay in, as he joined the crew for the trip down the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. Needless to say, drink was involved along the way. Keith actually lived on Alperton for a number of years as a lodger to Roger Hipkiss, the previous owner of the pair.

We also loaded Darley at Awbridge for transhipment to the ex FMC butty Gosport at Great Haywood. This was a fraught trip, as Darley was holed in the bottom when hitting an obstruction in the canal at Tettenhall on the Staffs & Worcs Canal. The obstruction is still in the canal despite numerous reports to the navigation authority (Canal & River Trust). We managed to nurse Darley to Great Haywood, as Terrys’ pump managed to keep up with the water leaking in. The coal was transhipped and the hole revealed. There was a three inch split in the steel bottom where the boat had bounced over the obstruction. Luckily, Terry is an excellent welder, and eventually re-bottomed Darley at Stretton Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal.

Darley and Alperton have  subsequently been sold, as Terry and Tina have aquired Starling and Ethel from David Jones. Darley is now owned by Malcolm “Blossom” Edge who shows it off around the rally scene.

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The picture shows Darley loaded with coal at Awbridge on the Staffs & Worcs Canal.

coalboat@waitrose.com © John Jackson 2014